Web Resources for Artists

We are proud at Golden Artist Colors, Inc. to be toolmakers for some of the most talented visual artists in the world. We have worked hard to produce innovative and imaginative tools for artists dedicated to preserving the legacy of our times. Our goal has been that by simply listening to artists and providing tools to meet their needs we will remain a valuable resource to the artist community. Our mission statement shares the desire to provide tools and support and to be the assistants for those visual artists that have inspired us for 25 years now. We understand the importance of being able to bring members of our arts community together in order to share valuable information with one another.

Just Paint editors asked experts from three different areas of interest to contribute (in their own words) their picks for Web sites and Internet resources that would be useful for artists. Bruce MacEvoy is an artist who is widely knowledgeable about color — color theories and the material aspects of color — and who publishes a Web site: Elizabeth Jablonski is a practicing fine arts conservator and has also been a significant researcher in the field of acrylic conservation. Monona Rossol has an eclectic background in art and chemistry and for decades has been a prolific author, activist and advocate who has defined safety standards in the arts. Not surprisingly, these three generous personalities offer a wealth of information for artists, couched in varying attitudes toward the usefulness of the Internet for their respective interests and disciplines.

Bruce MacEvoyBruce MacEvoy obtained his doctorate in Psychology at Cornell University and then went on to teach at the University of California Irvine. After that, he worked for a decade as an International Business Consultant at SRI International, founded a dot com research company, Personify, and was a director of research at Yahoo! for three years. He then decided to retire in August 2000 to Sonoma County, California, where he practices painting and drawing full time. Detailed below are resources on the Web that MacEvoy uses in his career (in his own words): Color is usually discussed from three different perspectives: as (1) the perceptual psychology that shapes color sensations; (2) the material sources of color in pigments and paints; and (3) the color combinations that are useful for design purposes (“color theory”).


Color perception is a significantly underestimated aspect of an artist’s training. Many of the great painters, from Leonardo to Turner to Seurat, studied color science in order to understand the effects of light and representation on the eye. The most accurate and in depth source I know of is my own Web site: Much of the discussion is specific to watercolor media. However, color perception is universal, despite the media.

The Web and the computers that connect to the Web have a tremendous potential for color education and experimentation. Some of this potential lies in the generic programming language Java, which can create color tutorials on any computer display. In color perception, there are educational applets at Brown University, collected at Another instructive and very entertaining set of color vision demonstrations is available at the Dale Purves site,

Even if the artist leaves color perception as an unexplained black box, color still has a structure or perceptual form that various color models try to describe. These are fairly well represented on the Web. My favorite physical model is the color cube ( The color cube Web site has a pretty good collection of color “articles” (Web pages), including an overview of color terminology, color theory and a menagerie of historical color models ( My favorite source for color models is, which attempts to narrate the historical progression of models and link them all to the underlying problems of color representation.


Information on pigments and their color properties in paints is still sparse on the net, although there are some interesting exhibits at, showing for example, the step-by-step method for extracting natural Alizarin from the Madder plant. Unfortunately, Web sites of this type emphasize antiquated color lore and sometimes-erroneous pigment information. (At one site, Alizarin is described as having “outstanding lightfastness.”)

Paint manufacturers are now more forthcoming about their product ingredients: Winsor & Newton, GOLDEN, Daniel Smith, M. Graham & Co., and Maimeri Fine Arts now post online the pigment recipes for their watercolor, acrylic or oil paints. In watercolors, for example, Daniel Smith ( allows the purchaser to display or hide pigment information during purchasing. In acrylics, the GOLDEN Web site ( provides a generous technical description of each acrylic paint, including color index name and index number, Munsell and CIELAB color descriptions, drawdown samples of tinting and hiding, pH range, tinting strength and gloss. The GOLDEN site also offers a technical section that addresses many practical issues in conservation and painting technique.

Many artists rely on simple “color wheels” to anticipate or understand color mixtures. I present a simple comparison of the different color circles in common use at, primarily to display the variety in color representations and emphasize that there is no one right or best model of color, though visual complementary colors provide the best framework for color design problems.

Aside from these sources there is little reliable information on the Web regarding the actual manipulation of paints, or the importance and measurement of pigment lightfastness, or the effect of pigment particle chemistry, particle size, refraction index, laking process, tinting strength, oil index and other attributes on the color characteristics of paints and their uses in painting. I am especially disappointed that none of the art schools or institutes in the United States has seen the need to be filled here.


Computers also have a tremendous potential to teach color design. As one example, consider the nifty Java applet at (Dead link – Ed.), which allows users to drag and drop color samples from a palette array into color design swatches or into the text, background and image elements of
a generic Web page.

There are a large number of sites that offer the rudiments of “color theory” (which is merely a kind of color design dogma), and this is perhaps the most widely reproduced content for artists on the Web. Perhaps the best overview is at

The most useful design guidelines emerge through the discussions at community Web sites. The best of these is perhaps It is a community discussion site boasting a contributing membership of more than 10,000 artists. Participants include nationally recognized curators and many experienced artists, with a large number of amateurs. The benefits of a community site are collegial encouragement and advice in what is often a lonely activity, as well as stimulating, often insightful answers to practical painting questions. The trick to using these sites is to refrain from abusing them as idle chat forums and to learn to recognize the trustworthy members through the kind of answers they offer and the justifications they offer for their advice (personal experience is most valuable). A request for information may take a few days or weeks to draw useful answers, but the unfolding discussion is usually illuminating.

Elizabeth JablonskiElizabeth Jablonski earned her graduate degree at the Master of Art Conservation Program at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Can. She completed internships at numerous institutions and was an Andrew Mellon Fellow in Paintings Conservation at The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas. She is currently an assistant conservator in the Paintings Conservation Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Below are resources that Jablonski turns to in her field (in her own words):

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC):
AIC is the national organization for art conservators. This Web site can answer basic questions about art conservation, such as its goals, ethics and the training paths for conservators. See the About AIC link: AIC Core Documents on the home page. There are also free downloadable brochures on the care of art objects. And, if you have specific concerns and need to consult an art conservator, this Web site can guide you through the process of selecting a conservator.

On the home page, choose Access Our Resources ( to find the downloadable brochures. Look under the headings, Caring for Your Treasures (including paintings), Outreach Materials and Selecting a Conservator (Titles have changed – Ed.).

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI): The Canadian Conservation Institute is located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. CCI engages in the treatment, research and scientific analysis of art materials. There are many links on the home page. Start at the top left with About CCI: Who We Are. Back on the home page, further down the left side, you will find Resources with links to a variety of technical conservation information. Also, at the right on the home page, under Spotlights, there is a link to Protect Your Outdoor Murals, which includes a sample condition report for keeping records of the condition of your murals from year to year: Finally, check out the link at the lower right to Preserving My Heritage, a fun, interactive Web site. It includes a section on how to care for a variety of art objects: (Dead link – Ed.)

Conservation Distribution List (Cons DistList) and Archives: This is an online information exchange for practicing conservators regarding conservation treatments and research on art materials and techniques. Questions and comments from artists interested in materials are always welcome. The list is moderated and is issued approximately once a week. It is free to join and to search the archive of past entries.

This link will tell you about the Conservation DistList and give specific instructions for joining:

This link will take you to the archive of past postings:

National Park Service: Conserve-O-Grams:
This site, though geared toward museum professionals, can also help artists, particularly with the packing, storage, transport and display of their artwork and health and safety issues. There are many Conserve-O-Grams and here are some specific files that could be useful to artists:

2. Security, Fire, and Curatorial Safety:
2/1 Hazardous Materials Health and Safety Update:
2/7 Fabricating Secure Hangers for Framed Works of Art

3. Agents of Deterioration:
3/4 Mold and Mildew: Prevention of Microorganism Growth in Museum Collections

12. Paintings:
12/1 Storage Screens for Paintings

14. Photographs:
14/1 Making Mounting Corners for Photographs and Paper Objects:
14/2 Storage Enclosures for Photographic Prints and Negatives
: museum/publications/conserveogram/14-02.pdf

17. Packing and Shipping Museum Objects:
17/1 Checklist for Planning the Shipment of Museum Objects
17/2 Packing Museum Objects for Shipment:
17/3 Crating Museum Objects for Shipment:
17/4 Retrofitting a Moving Van to Transport Museum Collections:

8. Museum Exhibits:
18/2 Safe Plastics and Fabrics for Exhibit and Storage:

21. Disaster Response and Recovery:
21/1 Health and Safety Hazards Arising From Floods:

The Conservation and Art Materials Encyclopedia Online (CAMEO):
This growing encyclopedic database is a catalog of art materials and is a resource for museum professionals and the public. The database is continually expanded and updated. CAMEO was developed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, by the Conservation and Collections Management Department with a 1998 grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). As an example, try a search for “acrylic paint.” There are descriptions of the materials, illustrative images
and bibliographical references.

Monona RossolMonona Rossol is a chemist, artist, and industrial hygienist. She was born into a theatrical family and worked as a professional entertainer from age 3 to 17. She enrolled in the University of Wisconsin where she earned a BS in Chemistry with a minor in Math, an MS majoring in Ceramics and Sculpture, and an MFA with majors in Ceramics and Glassblowing and a minor in Music. While in school she worked as a chemist, taught and exhibited artwork, performed with University music and theater groups, and worked yearly in summer stock. Rossol is currently President and Founder of Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing health and safety services to the arts. She also is the Health and Safety Director for Local 829 of the United Scenic Artists, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). She has lectured and consulted in the US, Canada, Australia, England, Mexico and Portugal. Below are Rossol’s thoughts toward the usefulness of the Internet for her discipline (in her own words):

Back a while ago I did a search for health and safety in the arts and looked at all kinds of sites other than my own just to see what else was available. A few sites had useful materials, but most of the information was very old, some was not very good, and some was outright wrong.

Therefore, I prefer hard copy and am willing to pay for it. My favorite two resources are the Federal Register (, which costs $700/year and the Bureau of National Affairs, which is $975/year. There is also a variety of other technical industrial hygiene and health publications such as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (, which I find useful.

On rare occasions, I use the electronic versions – e.g., when I’ve lost a clipped article. But I’d rather have the whole Federal Register with information from ALL the government agencies in my hand because once in a while, something really interesting happens in the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Coast Guard, the General Services Administration, the National Park Service, or even the US Mint. There are over 50 different agencies. The Internet is great for ferreting out specific information, but it is not really friendly to broad general browsing. Having a hard copy encourages me to read more of the publication — even in areas that are not strictly my concern. This way I learn about other areas.

I also have 5 researchers who watch technical literature in adjacent fields and two who watch the popular press; one in the US, the other in Canada. They keep me abreast of anything else I should know. The information comes by snail mail and e-mail.

Hard copy is also how people have to order our data sheets, the newsletter, and other publications. I have about 80 data sheets that are constantly being updated and changed. It would be difficult putting them on a Web site and changing them every time I add information.

That being said, however, there are a couple of Web sites that I visit regularly for information in the field. They are and I do this when there is a regulation I don’t have in hard copy in my office, a new ruling, or to check on who’s getting cited and fined.

This old fashioned way of working seems effective and we are doing very well. Clients really seem to find us. As long as this is true, it is unlikely we’ll change our practices.

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